Franz Kafka as a Hunger Artist

In: English and Literature

Submitted By areynolds3
Words 2806
Pages 12
Through much of Franz Kafka’s writing, the reader can see how his personal experiences and viewpoints are clearly worked into his many stories. One of which stands out is his story A Hunger Artist. In this story Kafka speaks through the hunger artist of the alienation and isolation he feels in his own body, as well as the emptiness he feels as a result of the disconnected relationship he and his father share. Ironically this emptiness manifests itself quite literally at the end of Kafka’s life, when he dies as a result of tuberculosis of the larynx, which causes him to literally starve to death, just as the hunger artist in the story. It was said about his writing “the early manifestations of authentic originality were nurtured in solitary confinement, with his readiness to see the world through his own eyes.” (Pawel 160) This comes across clearly in A Hunger Artist as someone who is in a self-imposed solitary confinement seeking meaning to his life, much like the hunger artist being locked in his cage. Thus, Kafka uses A Hunger Artist to speak of himself and his experiences.
A Hunger Artist is a short story about a once popular spectacle staged for the entertainment of a pleasure-seeking public: the exhibition of a professional “hunger-artist” performing in a cage of straw, his stunt of fasting. The hunger artist spends his fasting performances, and therefore most of his life, in a cage, on display before a crowd of people. His spectators see him as a trickster and common circus-freak and therefore they expect him to cheat, to break his fast in secret. But fasting is his sole reason for existing, his life purpose. For him, fasting is the easiest thing he can do, but no one believes in him. Because the public distrusts him, he is guarded (usually by three men) and prevented from fasting beyond a forty-day period. When he is removed from his cage he collapses in a…...

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